Media company Modern Times Group (MTG), which owns the ESL and DreamHack esports organisations, has moved to increase the monetisation of sponsorship and media rights in professional gaming with the launch of ESL Pro Tour, a new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition circuit that will feature a prize fund of over $5m (€4.5m).
ESL Pro Tour, which will launch in 2020, will combine ESL and DreamHack tournaments into a circuit that will link over 20 CS:GO tournaments and leagues. The circuit will feature competitions on five different continents and its prize fund will make it the most lucrative circuit in Counter-Strike’s 20-year history.
The Tour will comprise two tiers, with challenger tournaments serving as the foundation level. ESL said that Masters tournaments would continue to be the CS:GO tournaments fans “know and love”, while Masters Championships will be the elite twice-yearly tournaments that will decide which team is the best of the best.
MTG noted that, despite the growing interest in esports, the value of media rights has “lagged behind” the rise of audiences watching and viewing professional gaming events around the world. MTG hopes ESL Pro Tour will be an attractive proposition for prospective rights-holders.
MTG president and chief executive Jørgen Madsen Lindemann said: “While esports is attracting millions and millions of viewers and fans worldwide, the monetisation of media rights has been lagging behind in part due to a lack of viable media products. With the forming of ESL Pro Tour, we are taking an important step to change that; it’s global, recurring and announced well ahead of execution.”
He added: “The new ESL Pro Tour is the first of its kind and is made possible by our ownership of the two global players in esports, ESL and DreamHack. We will continue to leverage our unique position to further professionalise the esports industry and our ambition is to announce more global activations similar to ESL Pro Tour.”
More details of the new competition circuit will be presented at the ESL One New York event, which will be held at the Barclays Center on September 28.